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It wasn’t long ago when oil was considered taboo in a skincare routine. Oil-blotting pads, oil-free cleansers, and products to remove excess oil were the norm for combating slick and shiny complexions. At the time, the concept of face oil seemed counterintuitive. Why add more oil to your face when that’s precisely the thing you’re trying to get rid of? This is a common misconception according to skincare guru and celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech, whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Christy Turlington, and Kate Winslet. “People with oily skin think they can’t use oils because it will clog their pores. This is not true,” she tells us. “Oils dissolve oils.”

High-quality facial oils can nourish the skin to balance it out, which helps to stabilize the production of sebum (our skin’s natural oil). Plus, it’s excellent for locking in hydration, protecting the skin's natural barrier, reducing fine lines, and promoting a healthy, dewy glow. If facial oil is missing from your beauty regimen, we’re here to tell you why you might want to consider using it.

What Is a Face Oil, and What Does It Do?

Face oils help support the lipidic layer of the skin, the layer that protects us from environmental toxins and pathogens.

“When skin is over-treated, the lipidic layer gets damaged, and oils can help restore it,” says Czech. “They can be hydrating and healing.”

Oils are hydrophobic, meaning they’ll keep water from escaping. While oils technically can’t be labeled a moisturizer as they aren’t humectants and can’t pull moisture in from the outside environment, they are good sealants and help form a protective layer on the skin.

“There are so many forms of oils: vitamin A, vitamin C, and more, so depending on what your skin needs, there is an oil to treat it,” Czech says. “Oils are generally less irritating for the skin.”

What Is the Difference Between a Face Oil and a Serum?

Face oil is designed to nourish and protect the skin, while a serum targets specific skin conditions. They can, however, be used interchangeably, and many oils have the same texture as a serum, so they’re more easily absorbed and don’t feel heavy on the skin.

“Generally, serums contain smaller molecules in the form of a gel, water, or an emulsion and are usually water-based,” explains Czech.

How to Use Face Oil

It’s not a matter of if you should use face oil, but how—and that can make all the difference.

Czech recommends using oils three ways:

  1. After a toner in place of a serum
  2. Before moisturizer or adding a few drops mixed into your moisturizer
  3. As a finishing sealant over moisturizer

“Oils can be used as the final step to achieve a glowing, dewy look,” she says. Czech also warns that you shouldn’t skip out on a moisturizer because if a particular oil has no moisture to trap in, it can cause dryness.

No matter what your skin type or texture, face oils are incredibly beneficial. Luckily, we’ve researched the best face oils, so you don’t have to.